Fourth-Ranked Bruins Open Pac-10 Play Against Cross-Town Rival USC

Sept. 22, 2008

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#4 UCLA at #5 USC
Friday, September 26
Los Angeles, Calif.
Galen Center
7 p.m.
Live: Gametracker, Audio

A battle between a pair of top five teams opens up Pac-10 Conference play, as the fourth-ranked Bruins (10-1) travel across town to the Galen Center to take on the fifth-ranked USC Trojans (7-2). First serve is at 7 p.m. on Friday and all the action can be heard on with Darren Preston and Michael Sondheimer at the mic. Gametracker will also be available at

In addition to Friday's match at USC, all UCLA home matches, along with the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, will feature live audio broadcasts at Darren Preston and Michael Sondheimer will call all the action for each contest. In addition, Gametracker or live stats will be available for all home matches and most road contests.

The Bruins remained at fourth in this week's CBS College Sports Network/AVCA poll and gained in the points column for the fourth consecutive week. UCLA has 1,312 points, which is 11 more than the week before. The Bruins were also fourth in last week's Molten/Volleyball Magazine Top 25 rankings (Sept. 9).

Every year brings rule changes to women's volleyball, but most are so subtle that fans don't notice. That won't be the case in 2008, with perhaps the biggest rule change being the switch to 25-point sets. It marks the third different scoring method in the last nine seasons. After switching from sideout scoring and 15-point games to rally scoring and 30-point games for the 2001 season, the NCAA moves to 25-point sets to mirror the international scoring method. In addition to the new scoring system, the term 'game' has been replaced with 'set', so matches will now be a best three-out-of-five sets. The fifth set will remain rally scoring to 15. Other rule changes include a limit of substitutions to 12 and a loosening of the double-hit call for setters.

The Bruins' consecutive sets won streak was snapped at 25 during Saturday's 3-1 victory at Northwestern. After taking the first 25-19, UCLA fell in the second 32-30 to lose a set for the first time since Aug. 31 against Hawai'i. The streak of 25 straight sets won was the fourth longest in school history. In 1992, the Bruins had two separate streaks of 45 and 26, while they also had a stretch of 27 straight sets won in 1991.

The Bruins have won two straight Pac-10 Conference openers after beating Arizona in four in 2007 and Oregon in three in 2006. The win against the Ducks two years ago snapped a five-match losing streak in Pac-10 openers for UCLA. The Bruins are 15-7 all-time in their first Pac-10 match. UCLA is also 17-5 in road openers, having won its last two, including a 3-2 victory at California last season.

One month into the season, the Bruins find themselves in the Top 25 in the nation in five statistical categories, including 14th in kills per set at 14.26. UCLA is 17th in hitting percentage (.282), 20th in assists per set (12.89), 25th in blocks per set (2.66) and 10th in win-loss percentage (.909). Individually, senior Nellie Spicer ranks 34th in the country at 10.71 assists per set. Freshman Amanda Gil is in the Top 30 in two categories, ranking 14th in blocks per set (1.39) and 30th in hitting percentage (.388), while freshman Katie Camp is 35th in hitting percentage at .384.

Since dropping its first two matches of the season to third-ranked Texas and #2 Nebraska, USC has won seven straight matches and 21 consecutive sets. Last weekend, the Trojans went to West Point, N.Y. and defeated Hartford, Dartmouth and Army. Leading the Trojans on offense is freshman Alex Jupiter, who is posting 4.07 kills per set. Junior Jessica Gysin is second on the team with 3.26 kps, while sophomore Kimmee Roleder is third at 2.72 kps. Junior Taylor Carico sets the offense with 10.59 assists per set, while junior Alli Hillgren is third in the Pac-10 at 4.24 digs per set. As a team, USC is hitting .266 with 13.69 kills, 1.79 service aces, 12.69 digs and 2.83 blocks per set. Mick Haley is in his eighth year as the Trojans' head coach and has a record of 194-34 at USC. In 31-plus years of coaching, Haley owns a mark of 967-222-1.

The Bruins lead the all-time series with USC 53-48 after the teams split the two matchups a year ago. UCLA defeated USC at Pauley Pavilion in four sets on Oct. 5 to extend its winning streak over the Trojans to three matches. USC rebounded though with a 3-1 win at the Galen Center on Nov. 2. Box scores and recaps from both matches are available on page four of this release. UCLA is 19-17 all-time in matches played at USC, but has not won on the road since Nov. 19, 1999 (3-1).

The first of two UCLA-USC women's volleyball matches carries five points in the yearly Lexus Gauntlet competition, which began last weekend. The Trojans gained the first 2.5 points with a victory against the Bruin men's water polo team on Sunday. The women's volleyball team will give UCLA a chance to take the lead heading into the rest of the fall sports. Five more women's volleyball points will be on the line on Nov. 28 when the Bruins host the Trojans at Pauley Pavilion. Every Monday at 9 p.m., Fox Sports Net Prime Ticket airs The Gauntlet, an hour-long show reviewing the rivalry of the two crosstown rivals. Since the trophy's inception, USC has won the competition in even years (2002, 2004, 2006, 2008), while UCLA has brought the trophy to the J.D. Morgan Center in odd-numbered seasons (2003, 2005, 2007).

Senior Nellie Spicer surpassed an assists milestone on Friday in her home state of Illinois and continues to close in on the second-place spot on UCLA's all-time assists list. Spicer was named Most Valuable Player of the Northwestern Wildcat Classic, a tournament played in Evanston, Ill., just 30 miles east of her hometown of Barrington. She had double-doubles in each of the last two matches, recording 33 assists and 10 digs against Georgetown and 47 assists and 13 digs against Northwestern to give her 54 double-doubles for her career. It was the third time Spicer has been named to an All-Tournament Team this season (Hawaiian Airlines Classic and Nevada Tournament) and the second time she was MVP (Nevada Tournament). Spicer set the Bruins to at least a .350 hitting percentage in three of four matches last week, including a season-best total of .400 at Cal State Northridge last Tuesday. In 11 matches, the senior has led the Bruins to an attack of .300 or better six times. Spicer is fourth in the Pac-10 and 34th in the nation with 10.71 assists per set, recording at least 30 assists in nine of 11 matches. Her season best in assists came against Northwestern, while she posted another 40-plus assists match with 45 in a four-set victory at Hawai'i on Aug. 31. In that match, she also tied a personal high with eight kills and added 11 digs for her second double-double of the opening weekend, with her first coming against Ohio on Aug. 29 (32 assists, 10 digs). The senior enters this week's play with 5,061 career assists and is just 600 shy of second-place Ann Boyer, who had 5,667 assists at UCLA. Spicer has a chance of catching first-place Erika Selsor (6,234) by the end of the season. Spicer had 1,550 assists a year ago and would break Selsor's mark by 13 if she equals last season's total. In addition to her quest to become the school's all-time leader in assists, Spicer has the chance to become the third player in UCLA history to earn three first-team All-American accolades. She received a second consecutive first-team All-American honor as a junior to become the sixth Bruin to accomplish the feat (Annett Buckner, Liz Masakayan, Daiva Tomkus, Natalie Williams, Elaine Youngs). Williams and Youngs are the only Bruins to earn three first-team All-American awards.

And not just due to the fact that she is the tallest member of the Bruins at 6-6. Amanda Gil is one of the early candidates for National Freshman of the Year, as she enters this week's play first in the nation in blocks per set (1.39) and third in hitting percentage (.388) among all first-year players. Gil was named to the Northwestern Wildcat Classic All-Tournament Team for her third such honor of the year after also receiving the accolade at the Hawaiian Airlines Classic and the Nevada Tournament. Gil averaged 4.23 kills and 1.23 blocks per set in four matches last week, swinging at a .480 hitting percentage. The freshman began the week with a 12-kill effort against Cal State Northridge, hitting .647 (12-1-25) and posting a season-high nine blocks. Gil was even more successful at the Wildcat Classic. She had seven kills and no errors against Virginia and then posted 16 kills against Georgetown in Friday's second match. Gil had just one error in 26 attempts for a .577 hitting percentage against the Hoyas. The freshman's best match came on Saturday against the host Wildcats, recording a season-high 20 kills, the highest total for a Bruin this year. Gil is averaging 4.00 kps and 1.38 bps over her last five matches with a .444 hitting percentage. Overall, she is first on the squad in bps and hitting percentage and second in kps (3.06). Among conference players, Gil is second in bps, fifth in hitting and eighth in points per set (3.92). In addition to her four double-figure kills matches, Gil has hit at least .300 in seven contests, including four in a row. She also has four matches with at least five blocks, which is second on the team.

Perhaps the most consistent player on the team this season has been sophomore Dicey McGraw, who had three double-figure kills matches last week and has five in her last six. McGraw was named to the Northwestern Wildcat Classic All-Tournament Team, the second time she has received All-Tournament honors after also earning them at the Nevada Tournament. The sophomore began the weekend with a 12-kill performance against Virginia and added 10 more kills against Georgetown later on Friday. On Saturday, McGraw had a season-high 16 kills and 10 digs for her first double-double of the season and fourth of her career. Over the last six matches, McGraw is averaging 3.58 kills per set, while hitting .311. McGraw has seven double-figure kills matches this year, just four shy of her total from all of last season, and has led the Bruins in kills five times. She leads the Bruins with 3.34 kps and is ninth among Pac-10 players. McGraw is also hitting .292, 80 points better than her freshman percentage of .212. She has hit above .400 on four occasions, including a season-best .440 at Cal State Fullerton on Sept. 10.

Another year, another Ali Daley sighting at the top of the Bruins' kill category. The senior enters this week's play third on the squad with 2.77 kills per set, having posted at least seven kills in five straight matches and eight of her 10 contests this season. Daley had a pair of double-figure kills matches last week, including a great hitting performance at Cal State Northridge on Tuesday. She had 12 kills and just one error in 25 swings for a .440 hitting percentage against the Matadors, adding six digs and four blocks. At the Northwestern Wildcat Classic, she had a pair of seven-kill contests on Friday against Virginia and Georgetown and then recorded a season-high 14 kills and 11 digs against Northwestern on Saturday. The double-double was Daley's 31st of her career and second of the season, with the first coming on Aug. 31 at Hawai'i with 12 kills and a season-high 14 digs. The senior has four double-figure kills matches this season and 47 for her career. She has three contests with at least 10 digs in 2008 and 37 as a Bruin. Daley is tied for second on the squad with 2.35 digs per set and seven service aces. After surpassing the 1,000-career kill mark for her collegiate career last year, Daley is just 155 kills shy of becoming the 24th member of UCLA's 1,000-kill mark. She is also five digs away from 1,000 for her career and 241 away from 1,000 as a Bruin.

Joining fellow freshman Amanda Gil in the middle, Katie Camp has made as much an impact as her counterpart, as she is second on the team with a .384 hitting percentage and 1.18 blocks per set and fourth in kills per set at 2.18. Camp had at least eight kills in all three matches of the Northwestern Wildcat Classic, averaging 2.90 kps while hitting .510. The freshman had an impressive run of three straight matches with no errors against Cal State Northridge, Virginia and Georgetown, hitting over .550 in all three contests. Camp is hitting .483 over her last six matches, recording a season-best .722 percentage with a career-high 13 kills on 18 swings against Virginia last Friday. It was Camp's third double-figure kills matches of the year, with her previous high of 12 coming in a win at UC Riverside on Sept. 3. The freshman also has posted at least five blocks in five matches this season, which is tops on the team. Camp's best blocking contest came against Hawai'i, when she recorded nine, including two block solos. Her .384 hitting percentage ranks 35th in the nation and sixth in the Pac-10, while her 1.18 bps is sixth in the conference.

Senior Jessica Fine continues to stand out on the volleyball court, not just because of the fact she wears a different color jersey than her teammates, but also due to her defensive prowess. One of the top passers in the Pac-10, Fine is first on the team with 3.31 digs per set. The senior led the Bruins in digs in all three matches at the Northwestern Wildcat Classic, a feat she has accomplished seven times this season. Fine had 14 digs in the tournament opener against Virginia and added 10 more later on Friday against Georgetown. But her big match came against Northwestern, as she had a season-high 23 digs, giving her seven 20-plus digs contests for her career. Fine is averaging 4.31 dps over the last five matches and ranks eighth among Pac-10 players in dps. The senior has not had fewer than six digs in any of her 11 contests, reaching double figures a team-high five times. The five matches with at least 10 digs give Fine 25 such contests for her career.

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